Crime and Punishment: The Role of Norms in Crisis Bargaining


Journal Article

In this work I test the proposition that normative standards of behavior can influence state actions in security-related conflicts. Specifically, I examine the construction of norms in the settlements of security-related disputes and the effects these settlements have on subsequent militarized interactions. I argue that dispute settlements alter subsequent crisis bargaining in two important ways. First, they act as normative referents that alter the interpretation of subsequent crisis bargaining behavior both by identifying a solution to the dispute which alleviates fears of demands for future concessions and by defining a set of acts which both sides consider illegitimate. Second, in combination with the response to their violation, dispute settlements inflict reputational costs on states that violate them. I test these arguments against a realist theory of crisis bargaining through an analysis of 122 reinitiated international crises between 1929 and 1979. I find strong support for the hypothesis that states can and do construct normative standards that guide their behavior in international crises, whereas realist theory receives only mixed support.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Gelpi, C

Published Date

  • June 1997

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 91 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 339 - 360

Published By

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1537-5943

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-0554

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2307/2952360


  • en